The magic under the cowling
This rule change was chosen to ensure the battle for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship was fair, as well as exciting. It's also a lot safer.
The engine chosen for all raceplanes was the six-cylinder, Lycoming Thunderbolt AEIO-540-EXP. This engine produces 300hp at 2,950rpm. The powerplant for each team has been race-tuned and customised to Red Bull Air Race's exact specifications, and built in Lycoming's Advanced Technology Centre.
Before the engine can be used in a raceplane it undergoes rigorous testing. The testing and analysis of each engine verifies the performance of air flow, fuel flows, operating temperatures, horsepower and other operating parameters. All testing was performed to factory specifications, which ensures that the engines are operating reliably at peak and consistent performance.
Due to the introduction of the standardised engine and propeller, pilots and their teams now dedicate their efforts on perfecting airframe aerodynamics, as well as enhancing pilot skill and ability. It also put the technicians in the spotlight with a greater emphasis on aerodynamic modifications and new innovations like special synthetic Shark Skin, different winglets and vortex generators.